Isaiah 49:1 MEANING

Isaiah 49:1

(1) Listen, O isles . . .--The argument against idolatry has been brought to its close, and a new section opens, and with it there is a new speaker, the mysterious "Servant of the Lord," (Isaiah 42:1), at once identified with Israel (Isaiah 49:3), in fulfilling its ideal, and yet distinguished from it, as its Restorer and Redeemer. "Isles" as before stand vaguely for "far off countries." The invitation is addressed to the heathen far and wide.

The Lord hath called me from the womb.--The words indicate a predestined vocation. (Comp. Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:15; Luke 1:41; Galatians 1:15.) Admitting the thought of a Divine order working in human history, the idea of such a vocation follows in inevitable sequence.

Verses 1-12. - JEHOVAH'S ATTESTATION OF HIS SERVANT'S MISSION. Jehovah called his Servant from the womb; mentioned him by name; made his mouth a sharp sword; held him in his hand; caused him to be a polished weapon; appointed him his Servant; assured him of a right and a recompense; appointed him, not only to restore and recover Israel, but to be a Light to the Gentiles, and to give salvation to the ends of the world (vers. 1-6); chose him (ver. 7); will help him (ver. 8); through him will both deliver the captive everywhere (ver. 9), and cause joy to break out in every part of heaven and earth (vers. 11-13). It is quite impossible that these things can be said of aught but a person, or of any person other than him in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed (Genesis 22:18). Verse 1. - Listen, O isles (comp. Isaiah 41:1; Isaiah 42:1, 4, 6). Since the beginning of ch. 43. Israel alone has been addressed. Now that the mission of the Servant of Jehovah is to be treated of, all the world must be summoned to hear, for all the world is directly interested. Ye people; rather, ye peoples, or ye nations. The Lord hath called me from the womb. Isaiah could not have said this of himself, for his "call" took place when he was of mature age. But Christ was designated for his office from the womb (Luke 1:31-33). He was also still "in the womb of his mother" when the name of Jesus was given to him (Matthew 1:21, Luke 1:31).

49:1-6 The great Author of redemption shows the authority for his work. The sword of his word slays the lusts of his people, and all at enmity with them. His sharp arrows wound the conscience; but all these wounds will be healed, when the sinner prays to him for mercy. But even the Redeemer, who spake as never man spake in his personal ministry, often seemed to labour in vain. And if Jacob will not be brought back to God, and Israel will not be gathered, still Christ will be glorious. This promise is in part fulfilled in the calling of the Gentiles. Men perish in darkness. But Christ enlightens men, and so makes them holy and happy.Listen, O isles, unto me,.... These are not the words of Cyrus, as Lyra mentions; nor of the Prophet Isaiah, as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and other Jewish writers think; but of Christ, calling upon the inhabitants of the isles to hearken to him; by whom are meant the inhabitants of islands properly so called, as ours of Great Britain, and may be chiefly designed, being a place where the Gospel of Christ came early, and has been long; or all such that dwell in countries beyond the sea, it being usual with the Jews to call all such countries isles that were beyond sea to them; Christ is the great Prophet of his church, and is alone to be hearkened unto, and in all things, Matthew 17:5,

and hearken, ye people, from far; that were afar off from the land of Judea, as well as afar off from God and Christ, and the knowledge of him, and of righteousness and salvation by him; the Gentile nations are meant; see Ephesians 2:12, for this is to be understood of kingdoms afar off, as the Targum paraphrases it; and not of distant and future things, to be accomplished hereafter, as Aben Ezra; taking this to be the subject they are required to hearken to, and not as descriptive of persons that are to hearken:

the Lord hath called me from the womb; to the office of a Mediator; to be Prophet, Priest, and King; to be the Saviour and Redeemer of men; he did not assume this to himself, but was called of God his Father, Hebrews 5:4, and that not only from the womb of his mother Mary, or as soon as he was conceived and born of her; but from the womb of eternity, from the womb of eternal purposes and decrees; for he was set forth, or foreordained in the purposes of God, to be the propitiation for sin; and was predestinated to be the Redeemer before the foundation of the world, even before he had a being in this world as man. So the Targum,

"the Lord, before I was, appointed me;''

he prepared a body for him, and appointed him to be his salvation. The Syriac version join, the words "from far" to this clause, as do the Septuagint and Arabic versions, contrary to the accents, and renders them, "of a long time the Lord hath called me, from the womb"; even from eternity:

from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name; Jarchi interprets this of Isaiah, whose name was fixed and given him by the Lord, while he was in his mother's bowels, signifying that he should prophesy of salvation and comfort; but it is much better to understand it of Christ, whose name Jesus, a Saviour, was made mention of by the Lord, while he was in his mother's womb, and before he was born, Matthew 1:20, for the words may be rendered, "before the womb, and before the bowels of my mother" (r); that is, before he was in them.

(r) "ante uterum----ante viscera matris meae", h. e. "antequam essem in utero, et in visceribus matris meae", Vitringa.

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